Top drops: March 2017

From a floral bottle of English bubble to a tangy gin perfect for a Dirty Martini, here's what we'll be drinking this month.

Numbered from top to bottom, left to right:

1. SPIFFING FIZZ

2011 Hattingley Valley Blanc de Blancs, Hampshire, $125

English fizz is on everyone's lips. Even the Queen has got in on the act, releasing her own bubbly, grown at Windsor Great Park, earlier this year. It's not hard to see why when you taste the best examples - like this wonderfully floral, toasty wine. Imported by cellarhand.com.au

2. BRETT BEER

Mayday Hills Yee-Hah Brett Pale Ale, Beechworth, $7

Say the word "Brettanomyces" to winemakers and they'll cringe. Brett is a yeast that can go rogue and make wine taste like blood and barnyards. But ferment beer with Brett and you can get a fabulously rich, creamy and complex drink, like this. bridgeroadbrewers.com.au

3. NEW YARRA

2015 Marli Russell Grenache Shiraz, Yarra Valley, $46

New from legendary Yarra vineyard Mount Mary, this blend of grenache, shiraz and a touch of mourvèdre is a perfumed, black-fruited wine with supple, velvety tannin. A surprise, perhaps, from this "cool climate" region; released next month. mountmary.com.au

4. GUTSY GIN

Poor Toms Fool Strength Gin, Sydney, $80

Poor Toms distillery is right under the flight path at Sydney airport. This strong (52 per cent alcohol) gin will shake you like a too-close-for-comfort jumbo jet. Expect lots of tangy grapefruit, rich oily juniper and cardamom. It'd make the perfect Dirty Martini. poortomsgin.com.au

5. FRESH FACE

2016 Elderslie Hills Blend #2, Adelaide Hills, $42

Look out for the strikingly packaged wines from this new producer: as well as this pretty, light, raspberry-refreshing blend of pinot meunier and pinot noir, there's also a lovely textural white made from pinot blanc called Hills Blend #1. eldersliewines.com.au

6. MOON HARVEST

2015 Moon Marsanne, Nagambie, $38

The Moon vineyard is across the Goulburn River from Tahbilk, famous for ageworthy marsanne that's light and lean in youth. This is a deliciously different style, already bursting with honeysuckle, textural and savoury on the tongue. moonwine.com.au

7. BRILLIANT BOOJ

2015 Bouland Morgon Corcelette Vielles Vignes, Beaujolais, $48

The 2015 vintage was a cracker for many regions in France, with Beaujolais faring particularly well. This example is ravishing stuff: gorgeous purple in colour, succulent dark cherry and spice aromas, saturated, snappy tannins, and deeply delicious. Imported by bibendum.com.au

8. PURE PET-NAT

2016 The Wine Farm Pet Nat, South Gippsland, $40

The Wine Farm is a new name for a well-established vineyard in cool South Gippsland, where South African-born Neil Hawkins is now crafting exquisite wines such as this delicate, crisp, organically grown and naturally fermented fizz. thewinefarm.com.au

9. NEW COONAWARRA

2016 Balnaves Entav Clone Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot, Coonawarra, $28

Wine nerds love talking about clones (slightly different versions of the same grape variety). This thrillingly vibrant wine is made from clones of cabernet not grown in Coonawarra until recently - and it's a brilliant, bold, and bright purple drink. balnaves.com.au

10. RETRO CLASSIC

2013 Koomilya DC Block Shiraz, McLaren Vale, $110

Since he started working in McLaren Vale in the mid-1990s, winemaker Steve Pannell has coveted one special old vineyard. A few years ago he bought it and now he makes this gloriously generous, earthy, classic, ageworthy shiraz. koomilya.com.au


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